Executive-produced by George Lucas, directed by Jim Henson, and starring the legendary David Bowie, Labyrinth is a beloved cult classic about a teenage girl on a quest to rescue her kidnapped brother from the Goblin King.
Why you haven’t seen it:
You might not have heard of it. More of a bizarre fairy tale than a traditional fantasy, yet too complex to be considered a children’s film, Labyrinth never fit comfortably within one genre, and doesn’t get mentioned alongside classics like Lord of the Rings. It’s the epitome of a cult film.
Why it might be tough to get through:
Labyrinth isn’t your average fantasy film. The conflict is centered more upon psychological obstacles than physical, and you’re more apt to find riddles than swordfights. So don’t go in expecting grand battles and fast-paced action.
Why you should see it anyway:
Featuring original songs by David Bowie, MC Escher-inspired sets, stunning Jim Henson puppetry, and a bizarre cast of goblins, fairies and monsters, Labyrinth is an imaginative masterpiece; however, the film is equally adept at depicting the psychological journey of the protagonist as she grapples with guilt, trust and betrayal and ultimately discovers her own power. The script cleverly riffs on fairy tale tropes without falling prey to irony, and surreal visuals immerse the viewer into an ever-shifting land of illusion and deception.
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great…You have no power over me.”
“Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken; I took him. You cowered before me; I was frightening. I have re-ordered time, I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you.”
“Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.”
Canadian children’s writer Dennis Lee co-wrote the story with Henson, and the script was written by Monty Python’s Terry Jones.
Sculptor Ron Mueck, known for hyper-realistic nude sculptures, was a puppeteer on the film and provided the voice of Ludo.
Originally published in The Fulcrum as Movies you should have seen: Labyrinth; September 24, 2015. Movies You Should Have Seen is an ongoing feature in which Fulcrum writers provide film recommendations.